When More Is Too Much
When it comes to direct mail, the saying about less being more often is true. Sometimes, more of something is just that: more. And for direct mail especially, more elements can make packages feel cluttered and recipients overwhelmed.
That’s my impression of this mailing from the Consumer Reports Foundation. Inside the 4.5-inch-by-10.5-inch outer envelope are eight additional elements. First, there’s the reply device, which includes the ask: Consumer Reports is doing a raffle. Ticket stubs have been included in the mailing, but a contribution to the Consumer Reports Foundation is requested.
Actually, there is only a “Yes” box next to the ask, and it’s already checked. So all donors have to do is write out a check, put the check, the ticket stubs and the reply device in the BRE, and drop it in the mail. It’s actually a really simple, clearly laid out ask and reply device, but all of the other elements clutter the mailing.
The two-page, double-sided, 8.5-inch-by-11-inch letter goes into the details of the raffle: There’s a book of raffle tickets enclosed in the mailing that could hold a winning ticket and make the recipient the winner of a family sedan (first prize) or one of the other four cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $250. The letter goes on to explain that more than 100 prizes are guaranteed to be awarded, but it doesn’t say what the other prizes are.
There’s a 7-inch-by-7-inch folded, pink letter that reads “Enter Our Early Bird Drawing And Win a Top Rated Plasma TV” on the outer flap. Copy on the inside of the folded note explains the sweepstakes rules, and the back panel of the note repeats the offer for an extra chance to win. A 3.5-inch-by-7.5-inch buckslip explains that Consumer Reports can’t reveal the name of the car that will be awarded to the Grand Prize winner because it does not endorse any product or service.
Also in the mailing is the book of raffle tickets, the BRE and a 3-inch-by-4.5-inch pocket calendar freemium that lists the Consumer Reports Foundation’s 12 consumer-information Web sites.
And the icing on the cake is a 6-inch-by-10-inch, tri-folded lift note on bright yellow paper that catches nay-sayers on their way out with an outside panel that reads, “Are You Thinking of Not Returning Your Consumer Reports Raffle Tickets? Then Please Do Yourself a Favor …” Inside the lift note is a memo from Lou J. Milani, senior director of business affairs for the foundation, urging recipients to mail in their raffle tickets. “Would you throw away your lottery ticket without at least checking to see if you have a winning number? Of course you wouldn’t,” Milani writes.
Having recipients mail back the raffle tickets is a clever way to get them in the mail with the hope that once they’ve gone that far they’ll include a check for the foundation as well. And the fact that a new prize is announced nearly every other element certainly drew me further into the mailing. But all in all, the number of elements in this package struck me as overwhelming and confusing.
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